Tag Archives: researchers

The First National Public Opinion Research On Opioids

opioidsThe unprecedented spike in prescription opioid use in America has raised a number of questions with regard to how the country found itself in the grips of an epidemic. Certainly, most people who experience pain which requires an analgesic of some kind; the pain goes away and they stop taking the prescription. On the other hand, many people continue using prescription opioids long after the pain dissipates, resulting in dependence and/or addiction. Many Americans understand that the country is in the midst of a prescription drug crisis, with thousands of overdoses every year and even more people in need of addiction treatment. Some people will use prescription opioids that were prescribed for someone else, despite having the knowledge that opioids are dangerous and addictive. A new study, which may be the first national public opinion research on opioids, has found that in the past year more than one in four Americans took a prescription opioid, ScienceDaily reports. What’s more, fifty-eight percent of those surveyed say they understand that opioid abuse is major public health problem. The study was conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
"This study shows that many Americans have had direct experience using prescription pain relievers and a sizable share have misused or abused these medications themselves or have close friends or family members who have done so," says study leader Colleen L. Barry, PhD, MPP, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School. "The seriousness of the issue has become salient with the American public."
The findings indicate that the American public may be in a unique position to pass bills that could combat the opioid epidemic, according to the article. The public could support:
  • Better medical training for safely controlling pain and treating addiction.
  • Curbing “doctor shopping” (seeing multiple doctors for the same drugs).
  • Requiring pharmacists to check identification.
"We think this is the perfect time to work on passing policies that can truly impact the crisis of prescription pain reliever abuse," says study co-author Emma E. "Beth" McGinty, PhD, MS, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School. "The issue has not yet been highly politicized like some public health issues such as the Affordable Care Act, gun violence or needle exchanges, so we may have an opportunity to stem this epidemic."
The findings were published in the journal Addiction. ___________________________________________________________________________ If you are or a loved one is abusing opioids, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

A Link Between Marijuana and Prediabetes

marijuanaThis week, the state of Oregon began selling marijuana to adults for recreational use, now being one of four in the country to do so. With many Americans gearing up to vote on legalization next year, being informed about the drug is important. Over the last few years the amount of research on the drug has increased substantially, after decades of prohibition which limited who could study the drug. A new study has found a link between marijuana use and poor blood sugar control, also known as "prediabetes,” Medical News Today reports. Although the researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis were unable to tie marijuana use to type-2 diabetes - the most common form of diabetes. The research was led by Mike Bancks, a postdoctoral cardiovascular trainee at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health. Bancks and his research team focused on three questions:
  • Was there a link between marijuana use and prediabetes and/or type-2 diabetes?
  • Was being obese a factor to eliminate before connecting marijuana and diabetes.?
  • Does race/gender and sex/race play a part in the connection?
The researchers found that current marijuana users had a 65 percent increased chance of having prediabetes, according to the article. Interestingly, lifetime users of marijuana only had a 49 percent increase in the odds of having prediabetes. The researchers said:
Marijuana use was associated with the development and prevalence of prediabetes after adjustment. Specifically, occurrence of prediabetes in middle adulthood was significantly elevated for individuals who reported using marijuana in excess of 100 times by young adulthood. Future studies should look to objectively measure mode and quantity of marijuana use in relation to prospective metabolic health."
The findings were published in Diabetologia. ___________________________________________________________________________ If you are or a loved one is abusing marijuana, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

Bodybuilding Supplements Linked to Eating Disorders

bodybuilding-supplementsStaying physically fit is important to many Americans, and rightly so. It is widely accepted that those who exercise feel better than those who do not. In every major city there are private gyms littered throughout, providing outlets for those who would like to live a healthier lifestyle. However, there are times when working out can work against one’s health, becoming habit forming and often involving the use of bodybuilding supplements. Researchers at the California School of Professional Psychology in Alhambra found that a large percentage of men that work out abuse legal bodybuilding supplements, and many are aware that they can be detrimental to health, The Los Angeles Times reports. The study showed that over 40% of men surveyed reported increasing their use of supplements over time, and 29% were aware of the damage that bodybuilding supplements wreak on one’s health. Common bodybuilding supplements, marketed towards men for achieving an optimal body/fat ration include:
  • Protein Bars
  • Creatine Powder
  • Glutamine Capsules
The study authors go one step further, Richard Achiro and co-author Peter Theodore contend that the findings ‘should put risky supplement use “on the map” as an eating disorder that affects “a significant number of men”,’ according to the article. The researchers surveyed 195 men over the age of 18, all of which had reported working out at least twice a week and had used a legal supplement in the previous 30 days. The survey showed:
  • 22% reported having used supplements as meal replacements.
  • 8% were told by a doctor to reduce or stop their use of supplements.
  • 3% reported kidney or liver damage that required hospitalization.
The researchers conclude:
Excessive legal APED [appearance- and performance-enhancing drugs] use may represent a variant of disordered eating that threatens the health of gym-active men.”
The findings were presented at the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting in Toronto. ___________________________________________________________________________ If you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder or supplement abuse, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

Differing Views Regarding E-Cigarettes

e-cigarettesE-Cigarettes: A Smoking Cessation Aid or A Temptation?
In a short period of time, e-cigarettes have become extremely popular, with sales growing exponentially with every year that passes. While many e-cigarette users believe that the product(s) are effective smoking cessation devices and are healthier than traditional cigarettes, medical professionals and researchers have varying opinions. A lack of governmental oversight and regulation has allowed e-cigarette sales to grow faster than research can keep up with. Without a complete and accurate understanding of e-cigarettes, many users may be mistaken in their beliefs. A new study has found that a number of former smokers see e-cigarettes a temptation, one that may prompt them to begin smoking again, Reuters reports.
Because e-cigarettes are relatively new products we are only beginning to learn about the health risks,” said senior study author Amanda Amos, a researcher at the Center for Population Health Sciences at the University of Edinburgh Medical School.
The Research
In Scotland, the researchers conducted interviews with 64 smokers. In the past year, the research team conducted 12 focus groups and 11 individual interviews with former and current smokers. The findings produced little consistency, the participants had differing views regarding the pros and cons of the devices, according to the article. The varying opinions on e-cigarettes by the participants included:
  • Some found e-cigarettes as more satisfying than traditional cigarettes.
  • Some found the devices to be less satisfying.
  • Others found e-cigarettes to be a potential threat to smoking cessation.
The findings appear to indicate that, while e-cigarettes may help people quit smoking or be used as an alternative to traditional tobacco products, the findings suggest that smokers view e-cigarettes differently than gums, patches and medicines. The findings were published in Tobacco Control.
An Outside View
This paper shows that the public’s view of e-cigarettes is far from being clear, with a great deal of ambiguity around the product and its intended use,” said Dr. Ricardo Polosa, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Catania.
Polosa wasn’t involved in the study, but he believes:
E-cigs are a much safer alternative to smoking and are intended for smokers who are unable to quit using other methods.”
___________________________________________________________________________ More research will be needed to determine if e-cigarettes are a promising smoking cessation option. Nicotine addiction is a difficult habit to recover from, and tobacco products are the leading cause of cancer. If you or a loved one struggles with nicotine addiction, please do not hesitate to reach out for help.

The New Criteria for Alcoholism

alcohol-use-disorderAlcoholism will now be diagnosed on a spectrum, including mild, moderate, and severe. Historically, doctors divided problematic drinking into two categories, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. The new criteria for alcoholism in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), no longer includes abuse and dependence diagnoses, Science Daily reports. Now, there is a single alcohol use disorder diagnosis. Under the new criteria, new research suggests that a third of adults have an alcohol use disorder, and just 20 percent seek treatment for their disease. Having a single drink per day could put one at risk, depending on family history and behavior. Diagnosing an alcohol use disorder now involves an 11 item criteria list, according to the article. Mild alcohol use disorder requires having two or three criteria from the list, while a severe diagnosis requires six or more. Worldwide, alcohol use disorders affect more people than any other mental health condition. In the United States, researchers found an alcohol use disorder lifetime prevalence of 29.1 percent - but only 19.8 percent of adults were ever treated.
"Most importantly, this study highlighted the urgency of educating the public and policymakers about AUD [alcohol use disorder] and its treatments, destigmatizing the disorder and encouraging among those who cannot reduce their alcohol consumption on their own, despite substantial harm to themselves and others, to seek treatment," the study concludes.
The research indicated that the 12-month prevalence of alcohol use disorder under the new DSM-5 criteria was 13.9 percent and the lifetime prevalence was 29.1 percent. The aforementioned percentages equate to approximately 32.6 million and 68.5 million adults. The findings were published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

The Cost of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)

opioidsThe prescription opioid crisis in America has led to a number of babies being born with what's known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Expectant mothers who expose their fetus to opioids of any kind face the risk of giving birth to a child with NAS. The syndrome is the result of withdrawal from the opioid pain medication. Treating infants with NAS is complicated and requires trained medical personnel which can be costly. A new report has found that the costs of NAS treatment for babies have increased dramatically, Science Daily Reports. "At our institution, costs associated with treating infants with NAS are exponentially higher than the costs associated with infants not affected," write Dr. Kay Roussos-Ross, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and colleagues of University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville. The researchers analyzed cost trends for infants with NAS at one university-affiliated hospital between 2008 and 2011. Over the course of the three year study, Dr. Roussos-Ross and coauthors found 160 opioid-exposed newborns:
  • 40 in the first year.
  • 57 in the second year.
  • 63 in the third year.
About 50 to 60 percent of opioid-exposed infants developed symptoms of NAS each year of the study, according to the article. Most of the babies (95) were exposed to "opioid agonist" medications, drugs like methadone and buprenorphine, which are given to pregnant women who have an opioid use disorder. The other 65 babies were exposed to prescription opioids used illicitly by their mothers during the pregnancy. When compared to healthy infants, the researchers found that the cost of treating babies born with NAS is 15 to 16 times higher. Each year, the total costs for treating NAS increased dramatically, the article reports.
  • About $1.1 million in the first year.
  • $1.5 million in the second year.
  • $1.8 million in the third year.
Healthy babies typically spend one or two days in the hospital post-birth. Whereas, babies born with NAS are kept in the hospital for an average of 23 days. Babies that are exposed to opioids in utero that did not develop NAS stay in the hospital for about five days. The findings were published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

Binge Drinking Has Lasting Effects

addictionThe effort to understand the effects drug and alcohol use has on the brain during developmental years continues. When teenage drinking is talked about, the words “binge drinking” often arise, that is, consuming five or more alcoholic beverages (male), or four or more drinks (female), over a 2-hour period. The practice is quite common among teenagers who are trying to consume as much alcohol as they can - in the limited time they have. Binge drinking has been associated with a number of health problems, including alcohol poisonings and the potential for addictive behaviors to develop. New research suggests that teens that binge drink may experience changes in the brain that last into adulthood, The Los Angeles Times reports. Researchers found that repeated exposure to alcohol throughout one’s formative years may cause long-lasting changes in the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning. “In the eyes of the law, once people reach the age of 18, they are considered adult, but the brain continues to mature and refine all the way into the mid-20s,” lead author Mary-Louise Risher of Duke University said in a news release. “It’s important for young people to know that when they drink heavily during this period of development, there could be changes occurring that have a lasting impact on memory and other cognitive functions.” The brains of teenagers and young adults are still developing, according to researchers, and are uniquely sensitive to levels of alcohol consistent with binge drinking, the article reports. Using rats, the researchers found that those who regularly consumed alcohol while their brain was developing had problems with:
  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Judgment
  • Learning Ability
"It's quite possible that alcohol disrupts the maturation process, which can affect these cognitive function later on," said Risher. The findings appear in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

OxyContin Overdoses Drop – Heroin Overdoses Rise

needle-exchangeIn the United States, prescription drug overdoses are responsible for taking thousands of lives each year. While efforts to promote abuse-deterrent drugs and the implementation of prescription drug monitoring programs has had some promising results, the drop in prescription drug overdoses and prescribing rates has led to a surge in heroin overdoses, HealthDay reports. In 2010, the makers of OxyContin released a new version of the drug which incorporated abuse-deterrent properties. New research indicates that in the two years following the drug’s new formulation OxyContin related overdoses dropped 19 percent and prescriptions of the drug decreased 19 percent, according to the article. "This is the first time in the last two decades that narcotic prescribing had dropped, rather than continued to increase," said lead researcher Dr. Marc Larochelle, an instructor at Boston University School of Medicine. "With the pill, you used to be able to crush it up and either snort it or dissolve it and inject it. Now if you try and crush it, it doesn't turn into a powder -- it just kind of balls up, and if you try and dissolve it, it turns into a goo," Larochelle explained. Unfortunately, the opioid epidemic exhibits the properties of a hydra, cut off one head only to be faced with another. In the same time period, the researchers found that the rate of heroin overdoses increased 23 percent. "Reducing supply may have led some people who are abusing these drugs to substitute an illicit narcotic like heroin, and it may partially explain why we have seen an explosion in heroin use across the country," Larochelle said. Larochelle points out that simply altering drug formulations will not, in and of itself solve the drug abuse problem. "But it shows supply could be one part of the issue. Abuse-resistant formulations will not cure people who are addicted to narcotics. It could, however, prevent or slow down the number of new people who become addicted, because many people who use heroin may have started with pills," he said. The findings were published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The Best Approach to Combating Binge Drinking

binge-drinkingIn England, just as the United States, binge drinking is a major problem among young adults. The act of drinking as much as you can, as fast as you can, can lead to a number of problems and even result in addiction. Combating the practice of binge drinking has proven difficult, with research indicating that campaigns against binge drinking have bore little fruit. A new research conducted by Royal Holloway, University of London, in conjunction with three other UK universities, has found that official messages about binge drinking are unlikely to work and are often dismissed as irrelevant by young drinkers, Science Daily reports. The findings may be due to the consumption of large quantities of alcohol being part of their sub-cultural social identity, a group driven by the need to subvert rules and norms. "The insight that heavy drinking can be part of a rule-breaking sub-culture may seem obvious, yet huge sums have been spent in the past on Government anti-drinking advertising campaigns that simply fuel the sense that sensible drinking is boring and conformist, while binge drinking is subversive fun," said Professor Chris Hackley, from the School of Management at Royal Holloway. "Government messages that say 'drink sensibly' ignore the ways many young people actually enjoy drinking. This research also has implications for other areas of Government health policy, where compulsive and excessive consumption can sometimes be fuelled by a need to defy and subvert official rules." What’s more, the research showed that high-price tagged ad campaigns may actually have an adverse effect on people most at risk of drinking to excess, according to the report. In the United Kingdom, alcohol related injuries and deaths cost the National Health Service £3.5 billion a year. Clearly, with the price of excessive alcohol consumption being as high as it is, the need for more effective methods is apparent. The researchers contend that a more targeted and practical approach to alcohol intervention may be more effective than multi-million pound anti-drinking campaigns. The findings were published in the Journal of Business Research.

Bipolar Disorder and Marijuana Use

cannabisBipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is one of the more common co-occurring disorders that people living with addiction experience. Those in the field of addiction are acutely aware that those with co-occurring disorders are some of the most difficult to treat, due to the fact that both the substance abuse and the co-occurring disorder need to be addressed, if a successful recovery is to be achieved. Failure to properly diagnose and medicate co-occurring disorders accordingly usually results in relapse. Many living with mental health disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, often use illicit drugs to cope with their illness. Unlike prescription psychotropic medications, illicit drugs often exacerbate the mental illness, and often times lead to substance dependence and/ or addiction. New research has found that those living with bipolar disorder who use marijuana experience increased manic and depressive symptoms, Medical News Today reports. Symptoms including:
  • Shifts in Mood
  • Energy
  • Activity Levels
  • The Ability to Carry Out Day-to-Day Tasks
Researchers involved in the study found that around 2% of the UK population has Bipolar Disorder, and 60% of them have used marijuana at some point in their lives, according to the article. "One theory that is used to explain high levels of drug use is that people use cannabis to self-medicate their symptoms of bipolar disorder," said lead researcher Dr Elizabeth Tyler of the Spectrum Centre for Mental Health Research at Lancaster University. "The findings suggest that cannabis is not being used to self-medicate small changes in symptoms within the context of daily life. However, cannabis use itself may be associated with both positive and negative emotional states. We need to find out whether these relationships play out in the longer term as this may have an impact on a person's course of bipolar disorder." The findings were published in PLOS ONE.

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